When the ‘80s closed out and the ‘90s rolled in, one of the last genuine R&B diva groups slid into that new decade with a funky fresh look and sound. That group was En Vogue, comprised of Terry Ellis, Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, and Dawn Robinson. They climbed the charts with their definitive harmonies and also kept people on the edge of their seats with their sophisticated music videos. "Giving Him Something He Can Feel"—a remake of the Aretha Franklin classic featured on their sophomore album Funky Divas (1992) —was talked about for weeks, with women trying to guess the names of the who's who eye candy in the video.
After becoming a music supernova, Dawn Robinson left the group amidst creative differences and monetary disagreements, and the remaining trio released two more albums together in EV3 (1997) and Masterpiece Theatre (2000). Jones exited the fray prior to the group recording their 2002 holiday album The Gift of Christmas and was temporarily replaced by Amanda Cole, before Rhona Bennett took over for her in time for 2004’ Soul Flower.
An extended fourteen-year recording hiatus later, the trio have returned to blaze the airwaves with their buttery, soulful vocals on full display across Electric Café, which reinforces that they haven't lost their luster or fire. "Blue Skies" opens the album and of the eleven songs, it's the only song on the album that's lukewarm. However, En Vogue's lukewarm is a chef-d'oeuvre by regular standards.
The next track “Déjà vu” reminds us of how R&B is supposed to sound, with its sweet harmonies, no use of over-vibrato and organically good voices. Snoop Dogg joins the ladies on "Have a Seat," a song with opening beats taking it all the way back to The Sylvers' "Boogie Fever." Snoop's Cali drop-top, cruising down the 'Shaw intonation sprinkles extra spice on the already hot number.
No two songs sound alike on the album, a sublime blend of dancefloor cuts, soul searching ballads and cinematic melodies. Even though it's been a long time since they've released new material, they haven't lost the sparkle that made them special, which is raw talent. Electric Café is a vibrant entry in En Vogue musical repertoire.
Notable Tracks: “Déjà vu” | “Electric Café” | “Reach 4 Me”